Prosecutors order release of arrested suspects in Christine Dacera case

Published January 6, 2021, 6:47 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

The Makati City Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday, Jan. 6, ordered the release of the suspects in the rape-slay case of flight attendant Christine Dacera as it determined the need to conduct a preliminary investigation over the complaints filed against them, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

“After a thorough evaluation of the facts and evidence presented during inquest proceedings, the Office of the City Prosecutor, Makati City, resolved to refer the case for further investigation, and to release the arrested persons,” Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said in a statement.

Citing a resolution issued by the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office, Malcontento said the Philippine National Police (PNP) was ordered to release suspects John Pascual Dela Serna III, Rommel Galido, and John Paul Halili.

Police arrested the three and presented them for inquest before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office for rape and homicide charges after Dacera was found dead in the bathtub of her hotel room in Makati City last Jan. 1.

Also named respondents in the complaint filed before the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office were eight other at large suspects, namely, Gregorio Angelo Rafael De Guzman, Clark Rapinan, Valentine Rosales, Mark Anthony Rosales, Rey Ingles y Mabini, Louie De Lima, Jammyr Cunanan, and alias Ed Madrid.

Malcontento said all 11 suspects will undergo preliminary investigation to be conducted by the assigned investigating prosecutor over the complaints filed against them.

“The hearing for the preliminary investigation of the case was set on 13 January 2021 at 10:00 A.M,” he said.

In conducting the preliminary investigation, Malcontento explained the investigating prosecutor wanted to determine “whether Christine Angelica F. Dacera was raped and/or killed, and if yes, the identities of the persons responsible therefor” and “whether the death was by reason or on occasion of rape or for other reasons – the actual cause of death.”

Malcontento said the resolution also directed police investigators “to submit additional evidence, such as the DNA analysis report, toxicology/chemical analysis, and the histopath examination report.”

“After a thorough examination of the evidence presented on inquest, this Office finds that there are certain matters that need to be clarified to determine participation and culpability of each respondent for the alleged rape and killing of Christine Angelica Dacera y Faba,” read the three-page resolution signed by Assistant City Prosecutor Joan Bolina-Santillan and approved by Deputy City Prosecutor Henry Salazar and City Prosecutor Dindo Venturanza.

“At this point, the pieces of evidence so far submitted are insufficient to establish that she was sexually assaulted or raped. And, if sexual assault/rape was committed, who is/are the person/responsible?” the resolution pointed out.

“In the same manner, the evidence is also insufficient to prove the exact cause of death of the deceased. No evidence medically or scientifically was presented to prove that the cause of death or the rupture of aortic aneurysm was by reason of the alleged rape. Likewise, if homicide was committed, the person/s responsible is/are yet to be ascertained through further evidence. Neither can conspiracy be, in the meantime, appreciated in the absence of evidence, direct or circumstantial, that respondents were in agreement to commit the offense complained of,” it added.

The resolution cited that it has been established that Dacera, Galido, Ingles, De Lima, Dela Serna, and Rapinan rented a room at the City Garden Hotel on Dec. 31, 2020 to celebrate the new year. They were later joined by the other suspects.

The group began eating and drinking at around 10 p.m. that day and Galido observed that Dacera drank tequila and rum coke.

The resolution noted that closed circuit television (CCTV) footage at the hotel showed Dacera was last seen alive at around 6:23 a.m. on Jan. 1 at Room 2209.

At around 12:25 p.m. on Jan. 1, the front desk of the hotel received a call from a male person from Room 2209 seeking assistance for Dacera who was found unconscious in the bath tub.

The resolution noted that Dacera was rushed to the Makati Medical Center but was declared upon arrival.

“The Certificate of Death submitted by the complainant indicates ‘ruptured aortic aneurysm’ as the cause of death,” it said.